November 30 last year, Jocel and I marked 20 years married. I say marked as we weren’t able to celebrate it due to some medical issues other family members had which required our constant attention. Although we are still having a few challenges this year due to a recent death in the family which again requires quite a bit of our time, we were able to take some time off to celebrate our 20th and 21st anniversaries. I would have wanted a more elegant celebration but not being fully in command of our time made making reservations challenging. Anyway, Jocel wanted a steak dinner at Mamou and so we were able to get a table for the second seating last Saturday.
While the restaurant may have been more casual than what I would have preferred for such a momentous celebration, I made sure that the wine would be worthy of the occasion. Just before we were married, the Peninsula Hotel had a sale of wine in the deli shop in the basement. One of the wines on sale was Penfolds Grange (at that time still called Grange Hermitage) which went for about P 1600.00 a bottle. I must have kept talking to Jocel about how legendary that wine was because she went to the Peninsula and bought every bottle they had; 6 bottles in all. That was a significant amount of money at that time, probably equal to or more than her monthly pay check. She gave me the bottles which consisted of 5 bottles of the highly regarded vintage of 1986 and one bottle of the equally legendary 1983. I kept the bottles in the wine cav but I didn’t notice that the hinge on the door of the cav had rusted and so the door came out of alignment and the seal was not perfect. I suspect this led to the labels developing a significant amount of mold on them which pretty much makes them all but impossible to read.
You can still see some detail on the label including the vintage and the H in Hermitage, the wine’s previous name before the French objected to others using their famous appelations. Since 1989, the wine has been called simply Grange, not Grange Hermitage. On the upper left the word “Specimen” is visible. I have been assured by Penfolds that despite the word on the label, the wine is authentic and a real Grange.
I opened one of the 1986 bottles on our 15th anniversary but it was way too young, very tight despite 3 hours in the decanter. This time, I made sure the wine would be perfect at dinner. I opened the wine at home and double decanted it before pouring back in the bottle to take to the restaurant. This was 2 hours before dinner. Even straight from the bottle after popping the cork, I could tell this was going to be real special. Rich, powerful and tannic, I was glad I had the foresight to air it. Very dark core with just the slightest tinge of brown on the edge. The decanting softened the tannins sufficiently to make it approachable. Sweet, ripe, plummy fruit. Prune, date and fig follow but it still tastes very fresh. Later, blackberry and blackcurrant also show when the acidity kicks in. Coffee and sweet spices also make an appearance. Great length with a spice/fig flavor that won’t quit. Powerful wine with plenty of life left in it. Maybe a young adult. Beautifully balanced and very complex with many nuances of flavor. Spectacularly good. One of the greatest wines I’ve ever tasted. And I think I’m saying this objectively, aside from the sentimental appeal of the bottle. A truly great wine and a privilege to drink. Outstanding. To my wine friends, I’m sorry but you’ll have to take my word for it as all these bottles are reserved for Jocel and me.
Although steak was definitely to be the star of our dinner, we did have a couple of things to start with. The Palm Spring Rolls were nice although we thought it was better with the vinegar rather than the sweet/spicy sauce.
I also had the Hearty Lentil Soup which was exactly as advertised. Lots of flavor and a rather generous portion for one.
We weren’t shy about the steak and chose a twin portion of the USDA Prime Angus Ribeye with a sides of Brown Steak Rice and Creamed Spinach.
The one other item that Mamou does extremely well is Pecan Pie and so, although we were pretty full after demolishing the steak, we just had to have a slice of some of the best Pecan Pie in Manila.
Happy Anniversary, Jocel! Thanks for the wine and especially the 21 wonderful years! Here’s to the next 21 years and beyond!
Mamou is located at the Ground Floor, Serendra Piazza, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Tel 8563569